FROSTBURG — College students and professors alike gathered at Frostburg State University this week to welcome incoming freshmen at two sessions of Preview FSU, an orientation program that has been held for almost 50 summers. Four sessions will be held this summer.

The sessions were overnight programs with about 180 students in each. Students were split into groups of about 12, and a student preview guide and faculty adviser were assigned to each group based on majors.

Every incoming student is required to attend an orientation session, where the students take placement tests, chose their schedules for the fall semester and learn more about extracurriculars and living programs offered by the university.

Canyon Lohnas, a fourth-year education major, is a student assistant in the student affairs office. He has helped out for four years in a row, starting the summer after he graduated from Mountain Ridge High School. He said the program is designed to help incoming freshmen feel accepted and learn about opportunities offered by the university.

“I hope that when our students come they take advantage of our opportunities and our programs,” Lohnas said. “We want them to feel like they’re a part of our campus community.”

Eric Moore advised the physics and engineering majors who attended the first two sessions. He said the orientation exposes students to opportunities such as leadership, volunteering and peer education.

“Preview FSU is an opportunity for people to see not only the quality of courses we offer to our students, but it is also an opportunity to get students to look at other quality programs that are in place to help them have a well-rounded experience at Frostburg State,” Moore said.

Faculty advisers took different approaches to helping the students learn more about FSU and form their schedules. Moore tried to take a more personal approach, telling the students about his own experience as a Frostburg State graduate.

Robert Larivee, chairman of the school’s chemistry department, stressed the importance of decisions the students must make during college.

“They’re coming in as high school students, but they’re leaving as professionals. That’s a major transition,” said Larivee, who has been a Preview FSU adviser for more than 20 years.

Students said they were attracted to FSU for many reasons, including scholarships, the honors program and its facilities. Many said they chose the university because of its small class sizes and chances to interact with professors.

Students were given opportunities to socialize outside of their placement tests and advising sessions to help them meet more classmates.

Advisers said the students may have felt anxious when first arriving to the university, but that is alleviated by the activities given to them during their orientation.

“Some of their anxiety is eased by spending the night on campus and having some familiar faces when they return in the fall,” said Thomas Bowling, vice president of student affairs.

Students were reassured that they do not necessarily have to stick with the major that they originally apply to, according to Moore.

“I hope I’ll be able to find what I want to do. I want to be able to do something that makes me happy,” said Stephanie Cao, a student from Montgomery County.

The students’ parents had their own two-day orientation program. Bowling said the program can help relieve parents’ anxiety as well as the students’.

Students and advisers felt as though Preview FSU allowed students valuable insight on what their college experience may actually be.

“These past few days have allowed me to see what’s actually here and what I can actually do at FSU,” said Benjamin Doggett, a student from Montgomery County.

“I’ve learned (from Preview FSU) that there’s something for everybody,” said Emma Rowley, a Fort Hill High School graduate and history major.

“When I started school, I had no clue what was going on the first day. This is a tremendous advantage for the students — that they have this opportunity, and I think that’s wonderful that they get to work with somebody who can tell them what to expect on day one and what they need to know and to assure them that things are going to be OK,” Larivee said.

Contact Makea Luzader at mluzader@terpmail.umd.edu.

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